Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Well the news never ceases to amaze me these days. Benoit Guay was a former police officer in Montreal who turned serial rapist. There are several things about this story that concerns me. The guy was a police officer for 13 years before he was arrested for multiple armed rapes. That is a huge betrayal of public trust as was the Commander wing nut case.
The other thing that concerns me is the whole concept of statutory release after serving two-thirds of his sentence. As recent as last summer, August 2010, he was denied early parole because of his notable lack of empathy. He said "I will always be afraid of myself. This problem is something that will never go away."
Yet at the time the news reported that Guay will be eligible for release again at the end of 2010, when he will have served two-thirds of his sentence. Well here we are. As we near the end of 2010 the National Parole Board has ruled that Benoit Guay qualifies for a statutory release after serving two-thirds of his sentence. WTF?
The whole concept of statutory release concerns me. Statutory release basically means mandatory early release after two thirds of your sentence is completed. Kinda like mandatory minimum sentences only backwards. Statutory release automatically minimizes the penalty for violent crime by one third. That is wrong. Good behaviour means good behavior. It should not be automatic.
"Benoit Guay sodomized a 15-year-old girl. He sexually assaulted four others, mostly teenage girls. He used a gun to threaten victims into silence. He physically assaulted another three. For all this, including the presumed higher standard on police not to abuse the privilege of carrying a weapon, he received an eight-year sentence – at the Crown's request. By the peculiar math of Canadian justice, he is to be released to a halfway house at the four-year point."
That's another valid point. Peculiar math is right. He gets an 8 year sentence and the National Parole Board said he is due for Statutory release after two thirds of his sentence is complete. Well two thirds of 8 is 5.3 not 4 so how on earth does the National Parole Board figure two thirds of his sentence is half of his sentence.
The whole argument of Statutory release rises because they say instead of releasing a criminal straight into society, it's better to wean him in gradually through a half way house so we can keep an eye on him. That argument does have merit. However, the way it is currently used mocks justice. If someone is a dangerous offender with a high likelihood of re offending, you keep monitoring him. His release is conditional. Otherwise, the dangerous offender is not released.
We can argue about the death penalty until the cows come home. We can also argue about the fiscal cost of locking everyone in jail for every offense indefinitely. Yet two things are clear: We need to introduce mandatory minimum sentences for violent crime (murder, swarming and armed rape are violent crimes) and we need to do away with statutory release for violent crime. Period.
Those are two realistic steps that we can take that would protect the public without abandoning the hope of rehabilitation. Speaking of rehabilitation, we haven't heard from the balcony rapist in a while. No news is good news.